Bloemfontein – Former al-Qaeda captive Yolande Korkie recalled on Monday how devastated she was by the news of her husband's death, but also how relieved she was to know his suffering had
"When I heard of my husband’s passing at the time, I was relieved that his suffering was finally over. It was terrible, but I was relieved," she told News24 during the launch of her book, 558 Days, in Bloemfontein.
"We are trying to move forward, sometimes it is hard, we get stuck in our own tears and longing, but we have moved forward," she said.
Korkie also presented her book as a token of appreciation to Gift of the Giver’s negotiator, Anas al-Hamati.
Speaking at the Grey College Secondary School, where her late husband Pierre Korkie was a teacher and an athletics coach for 24 years, an emotional Korkie described her book as one that would restore hope to many individuals.
Share hope, forgiveness and love
She also saluted her children for their bravery. "It is really important that we share hope, forgiveness and love. People will receive hope and they will be encouraged from reading the book – I wrote the book because South Africans really rallied around all of us, this is a gift to them," she said.
In the book, Korkie recounts what happened to her and her husband from the moment they were kidnapped until her release and then through to Pierre's death. She said she mostly wrote the book in the evenings.
"I felt all kinds of different emotions that you can think of while writing the book, and it was an intense process and I realised how confused all the information was up until I started writing, and the Lord brought all the things out," she said.
Korkie and her husband were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May 2013.
She was released eight months later and returned to South Africa as the Gift of the Givers continued to negotiate for her husband's release.
However, Pierre and US photographer Luke Somers were killed during an attempt by the US Special Forces to free them from their al-Qaeda captors on December 6, 2014.
Al-Hamati had already secured a deal with al-Qaeda for Pierre’s release at the time of his death. The kidnappers demanded about R32.5m in exchange for his safe return.
Pierre was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.
Al-Hamati was forced to leave Yemen for his own safety after al-Qaeda accused him of stealing the ransom money.